A lot of attention is being focused on cortisol levels and weight gain. According to MayoClinic, cortisol is a hormone in the body that increases sugars in the bloodstream, increases the availability of substances that repair tissues and enhances the brain’s use of glucose. When people feel anxiety, the hypothalamus sends signals to the adrenal glands to release adrenaline and cortisol. However, when people feel a lot of day-to-day stress, the fight-or-flight reaction of the body to stress stays active, and cortisol continues to release sugars into the bloodstream. Besides heart disease, digestive problems, sleep problems, skin issues and memory problems, one of the side effects of high cortisol levels is weight gain.
Cortisol Levels and Weight Gain
When people feel stress and anxiety on an everyday basis, the body continuously releases adrenaline and cortisol into the blood stream. Adrenaline dissipates when anxiety starts to wane; however, cortisol lingers in the body and increases the desire for people to eat more carbohydrates to compensate for physical exertion. The body is programed anachronistically to fight off stress and danger like our ancestors did with physical activity. But because most people today do not physically burn off extra energy after being affected by stress, increased carbohydrate cravings and carbohydrate consumption from lingering cortisol levels usually cause weight gain.
Weight gain from increased cortisol levels tends to collect around the stomach area. Fat cells in the stomach are more sensitive to cortisol, and they are very effective at storing energy. Unfortunately, weight gain in the stomach area is one of the most dangerous places for the body to store fat. Stomach fat is not only unattractive, it can also lead to many serious health conditions like diabetes, metabolic syndrome and heart disease.